Archive for August, 2017

August 31, 2017

San Clemente, Province of Cuenca, Castilla La Mancha!

And here I am again with the continuing story of Cuenca Province and Castilla La Mancha, Don Quijote and all; this is a road warrior’s delight into the heart of Spain. We went on by car on the edges of the Province of Cuenca along the N310 in San Clemente.

This was the highlight of the trip, not only because of the ride into a more built-up city or the fine buildings, but we had a great lunch at a wonderful place we marked down to come back! The city hall page is here: http://www.sanclemente.es/#

The town is very old going back into pre history. Here the Romans and Moors and once conquered back Christian, they found a wooden Virgin near a old castle ruin and call it Virgen de Rus, (for the old castle) now the town Patron’s Saint. As the town sided with queen Isabel I the Catholic, it was given special privileges and town status independent of others since 1479. Key city in the war of independence from Napoleon’s France at the end in 1814 was given judicial power city one of 12 in the area for been loyal to the Spanish Crown.  During the Spanish Civil War, there were aerodrome built here mostly of Russian make for the Republican losing side.

It has a huge inventory of historical buildings and has been declared a city of national interest in Spain. One of these buildings is the Casa Consistorial ,renaissance from the 16C . The bottom floor is the local archive and the other floors there is a Graphics arts museum. It is in the Plaza Mayor.

The relevant building here is the Church Santiago Apostol, reinaissance from the 16C.  Three levels with the last retouches from the baroque of the 17C.  It covers quite a bit of space going from the Plaza Mayor to the Plaza de la Iglesia.

There is a tower in the plaza Mayor  or Torre Vieja, (old tower) built in the 15C before 1445. It is now the Tourist Office and the Museum of Etnography of Labranza.

We walked by the Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion, the Convent of San José y Santa Ana (Founded by Carmelites in  1617), Monasterio de los Angeles (Founded in 1588 by Trinitarians), Old Prison building ( done in 1588 united by the arches), and the Plaza de Toros! (built in 1908), and needed more time. More on the bullfights arena here: http://www.tauroweb.es/plazas-de-toros.php?plaza_id=298

The wonderful city hall ,Mercado del Abasto market, el Posito (old bakeries and butcheries housing grains in second level and meats in first level) , the nice looking gate arches coming out from the Plaza Mayor just nice; the City/town hall of plateresque style architecture ; and of course the Cerveceria El Carmen where we had our lunch for the day !  Plenty of tapas chorizos fritos, omelettes of potatoes tortillas de patata, ham croquettes, etc and the nice cold beers just what the summer calls for it,and all under 9€ per person! Nice ::) The first one on the town’s Tourist page here:  http://www.turismosanclemente.com/es/enlaces-de-interes-bares-y-restaurantes-.zhtm

There is plenty to see here for more than a day, maybe two. The pages are in Spanish :  http://www.turismosanclemente.com/es/edificios-religiosos.zhtm

And the above site has a map you can enlarge to see all points of interest; here it is: http://www.turismosanclemente.com/es/plano-turistico.zhtm

Once again, this is wonderful, this is life. I ended our tour for the day and headed back to our house in the Serrania de Cuenca at Las Majadas. Very nice ride, good fun for the family and a lot passed on for future generations on my beloved Spain. Ahh yes don’t forget this is the Province of Cuenca, Autonomous region of Castilla La Mancha, Spain; everything under the sun. Cheers y’all!

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August 31, 2017

Villanueva de la Jara, Province of Cuenca, Castilla La Mancha!

This was a long road warrior day thru the province of Cuenca in the region of Castilla de la Mancha. We went south of Cuenca on national and local regional roads into the vast lands of Don Quijote, searching his dreams! We stop at Villanueva de la Jara.

This is a historical town, going back to prehistoric times. However, it is call Villanueva or new town because in 1476 sided with the Queen Isabel I of Castille (The Catholic Queen) in her fight in the war of Succession to the throne she contested with Juana la Beltraneja. She ,Isabel I won, and for allegiance gave the title of City, and built a college of latin ,the first one in the province of Cuenca.

During the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), it was a Republican base and many notables came here such as George Orwell, Willy Brandt ,and Josip Broz Tito who fought in the international Brigades, the Comitern, and the Lincoln Brigade.

We came here down on our ways in the N320 direct to town and easy parking by the main Church. Some of the things to see here are the Plaza Mayor , main square. It has a clock tower (Torre del Reloj) and the city hall is renaissance from the 16C.

The Church or Iglesia del Carmen was previously a monks’s convent of the Carmelites that keeps the image of the Virgen de las Nieves (Virgin of the snow) the town patron Saint.

The Church or Iglesia Parroquial de la Asuncion holds the title of Basilica . This Church was built with the stones of the old arab castle in the 15C. The high Altar has a beautiful retable on three bodies of golden wood.  You can tell the fortified nature of it from its walled ramparts of arab origin and rebuilt as a wall in the 16C. You see next to it, three slabs with circular towers all that is left of the castle of Villanueva. It was very nice inside with the best Chapels such as Capilla  la de la Inmaculada Concepción, altar style from the gothic to the renaissance, Capilla de la Virgen del Rosario, nice dome, and the Capilla de la Virgen del Pilar, with a retable of the 16C. Bit more on it here in Spanish: http://www.descubrecuenca.com/es/enclaves-y-poblaciones/la-manchuela/basilica-de-nuestra-senora-de-la-asuncion-villanueva-de-la-jara-52

The Convent of the Carmelites was founded by Santa Teresa de Jesus in 1580. When we got there it was closed; it is walking distance from the Plaza Mayor. It has paintings from the 17C , and the tomb of the Venerable Ana de San Agustín, that took over the convent once Santa Teresa left the town. Villanueva de la Jara is part of the trail of footprints of Santa Teresa, a pilgrimage route that includes 17 cities where the Saint Teresa de Jesus left her presence with founding buildings such as convents or churches etc. See photo of  Santa Teresa de Jesus ,her statue in front of the Church or Iglesia Parroquial de la Asuncion.

You have some info in Spanish in the regional tourist portal here: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/villanueva-de-la-jara-47331/descripcion/

OF course, there is always more; but this gave us a glimpse of the real Castilian life in the Province of Cuenca, region of Castilla La Mancha. Memories that will lingered forever in our minds.  See for example, (photo) the architecture facade of the house villa Enriqueta in the Plaza Mayor. The trip, the people, all wonderful. Hope you enjoy it looking at the pictures as I did taken them and passing by this region. Cheers y’all.

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August 31, 2017

Road warrior passing by the Province of Cuenca, Castilla La Mancha!

We had our day to wandered in the vast spaces of the Province of Cuenca in the region of Castilla La Mancha. This is one answer to the book of Don Quijote by Miguel Cervantes Saavedra of his space out mind into the wilderness, well this is barren land, dessert like and windmills and just vast land space of hardly nothing in front of you. However, this is Spain, this is Castille , the one to see to know the country away from the cozy confines of Madrid or Barcelona and the beaches.

We drove it from our base in the mountains of the Serrania de Cuenca down to Cuenca and from there into the Don Quijote trail!!! Meandering by the road N420 and then the N320,CM220 to sleepy Motilla del Palancar and into the town of  Sisante with its Church of Santa Catalina. This Church was built in the 17C and consolidated in the 18C. A bit more info in Spanish here: http://www.sisante.net/municipio/iglesia-parroquial-de-sta-catalina-8/

We zigzag all over this area driving onwards and passing many typical Castilian towns and stopping on some like Arcas del Villar.  Here you see the Church or Iglesia de la Natividad de Nuestra Señora or Church of the Nativity of Our Lady. The style is Roman turning into Gothic from the 13C. The exterior has a flat wall annex to the main building with arches to hold three bells and the front door romanique with five arches; the interior there is a nice Chapel dedicated to the Virgin of the Higa (fig) and a Christ.  More here in Spanish: http://www.ayuntamientoarcas.es/turismo/patrimonio/

We move on in our road warrior trip thru the lands of Quijote and landed at Almodovar del Pinar; an old town since the inquisition who has a nice Church or Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion right in the Plaza Mayor. The nave or central hall is from the 15C, tower from the 17C and portal door from the 18C. Right here in the Plaza Mayor you have the nice building of the city/town hall.  Right by the entrance to the town you see the Ermita Vicente Ferrer dating from the 18C now use for civil events. It is with a baroque door and two columns on the sides with an image in stone of the Saint (the same that is in Vannes Brittany where I ,work and his body is in the Catedral of Vannes). The story of this Church is that as the local people were known as carreteros or wagon transport folks to and from Valencia ,one of the shipments arrived of great value and nobody claim it. Once no owner was found, the authorities open the shipment and found amongst the goods a manuscript saying that the money collected from the sale of the goods were to have build a Church dedicated to the Saint and a school to teach 12 poor girls from the town.  Three brother did just that and built the Church and the School. This is where the current school Virgen de las Nieves is located today;with the Church still remaining for social town events. More on the town here in Spanish: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/almodovar-del-pinar-44131/descripcion/

We move on from here and reach the town of Garcimuñoz that is basically a castle. The fortified city is found on the A3 direction Cuenca. Excavations around the castle makes one think that castle existed since the 10C .  In 1177 king Alfonso VIII conquers the city of Cuenca  and two years later conquers this muslim enclave ,and the name come from the chevalier that accompanied the king  García Muñoz , and he was name mayor of the castle town and made inhabited the town by people from Extremadura and Burgos, the city is therefore simply name the  Castillo de Garcimuñoz. An important enclave in the wars of succession in Spain.

Until the first third of the 19C the Marquis de Villena were the owners of the town and castle, later with the law of 1823 it passes to the public treasury and the Marquis ends selling the lands in Castillo de Garcimuñoz. The peculiarity of the castle is that below the castle that was ordered built in 1458  exists the castle where the original owner lived in continuation of the occupancy by  Garci-Muñoz , and from which in its day the Caliph  Yusuf ordered built while in his warring in the area in 1172.

This is not an official site but an association that keeps lots of info on the castle city in Spanish:  http://www.castillogarcimunoz.es/historia/

Hope you enjoy this part of my Spain, rustic , dry, and the real thing of what is Spain, everything under the Sun ! Cheers

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August 30, 2017

Valle de los Caidos,

This is a historical site, again first came in 1972 with my dear Mother and later a few times more. Never with the family, but this time it was it. A controversial site now in the new Spain but one that must be remembered for what it is, a resting place of the brave. The Spanish Civil War was viscious and deadly on both sides , and it is time to have it remembered as a thing never to happened again. However, it must be mention ,and talk about it, so future generations understand and do not make the same mistake.

It is run by Benedictines monks now of the Comunidad Benedictina de la Abadía Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos.  Their main site for the Valley of the Fallen is here: http://www.valledeloscaidos.es/

It is located in the sides of the mountains or  Sierra de Guadarrama , and belongs to the municipality of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.  The emblematic sign is a huge Cross  at a height of 150 meters of which  25 meters are for the base of the evangelists, 17 meters to corp of the virtues and 108 meters of the Cross. The rock base is also 150 meters in addition to the Cross and the arms of it are 46,40 meters wide.

We came here from El Escorial on the M600, and easy free parking at the place. We had lunch here in the cafeteria by the Basilica side, with mahou beers, chorizo frito, omelette or tortilla, ice cream etc nice quiet place and just next to the Cross and cable car entrance.

There is a funicular or cable car to climb it at a height of 1258 meters to 1383 meters to avoid the unleveling of 125 meters with a trip long of 278 meters at a  43,44% angle with a maximum of 53,1%. The wagons have a window on top to see the views and on the side of the cable car there is a stair of 738 steps for emergencies. There is way up the ramp with stairs that is accessable on foot, and there is an elevator/lift by the interior of the mountain.

The Basílica has 262 meters long and a height of 41 meters, with 6 lateral chapels. Capilla de la Inmaculada (immaculate chapel), Carmen, Loreto, Africa, Merced, del Pilar. between the spaces of the Chapels you see 8 tapestries of the Apocalypse a flamand copie from the 16C acquired by king Carlos III and brought to Spain by king Felipe II; the orginals are in the Palacio de la Granja de San ildelfonso. Behind each Chapel and the other Chapels of Santisimo and Sepulcro on the lateral sides rest in peace almost 34000 fallen according to the existing registry or more than 50000 or even 70 000 according to other estimates. These are fallen from both sides of the conflict from all regions of Spain in a sign of brotherhood and reconciliation.

There is a monastery here too. It was set up in 1955 by a monastic order, the Benedictines. The monks came from a demand to the Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos (Burgos) that was restored in 1880 by monks that came from France by the Congregation of Solesmes. More on it here: http://www.valledeloscaidos.es/abadia

There is a group supporting of the continuation of this monument such as : http://www.elvalledeloscaidos.es/portal/

And the monument is part of the National Heritage here: https://www.patrimonionacional.es/real-sitio/monasterios/6258

It is a solemn place, very tranquil up in the mountain and we went with little crowds, even if we did not go in the rock. Another place of rememberance of things never to be done ever again, anywhere.

Enjoy the lesson, cheers.

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August 30, 2017

A masterpiece; Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial

This is one of the jewels of our times, a masterpiece of construction and a must to visit on your travels to Spain, especially if around Madrid. I have a long history with the place, the Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial, in the Comunidad de Madrid region.

First, it’s official webpage here in English: http://www.sanlorenzoturismo.org/en

And the city hall page in Spanish on history: http://www.aytosanlorenzo.es/historia/

Finally, the national heritage of Spain site in English : https://www.patrimonionacional.es/real-sitio/palacios/6172

My dear late mother brought me here for the first time back in 1972 as a boy, and at first just realized the grandeur of the place and nothing more. On subsequent trips with her already a teenager realized the history that it is within it the history of our Spain, and it hit me greatly. The place, the history, architecture ,and the knowledge.

In 1990, I brought here what was my girlfriend and now wife; coming in her VW Golf from France. I needed to show her my Spain, and the places dear to me in my life story; this is one of them. We had a flat tire on Floridablanca  street ,and had to call in a tow truck to a mechanic place nearby that unfortunately the name now fades ; to fix the tire. It remains one of the anecdotes of coming here.

Do not know why when on previous trips we went someplace else and never had come with the boys until now. Well they are now young men, and better to understand this place and their bloodlines; I acting as the tour guide now ,very proudly telling them the folks that laid here and their place in Spanish/European and even World history.

The place still is huge, magnificent and with style. It was unbelievable meaningful walking thru it’s front doors again with my family; remembering Mom always in my heart.

There is so much information written on it elsewhere, will just cover the basic here and encouraged you, beg you to come and visit this place. I came here by car from our base in Las Majadas (Cuenca) on the A40, then A3, then the M30 beltway to connect with the A6 and into the M505 that takes you here. We parked easily at the Plaza de la Constitucion underground parking.

We had our treats for Churros at the La Churreria de San Lorenzo next to the market by same name yummy good; and later had our lunch more like a drink snack at the Meson de 5 Bellotas by Plaza de la Cruz near our parking. We purchased breads at the Panaderia Vicente, Calle Duque de Alba to munch on the way around our trip in the area!

The town was set up in the 18C and became a municipality early in the 19C with its first mayor.  The old town was called El Escorial, and it  came from lands king Felipe II purchased and built the Monastery by the end of the 16C. The town was not name San Lorenzo de El Escorial until 1767. Since the 16C it is considered the 8th wonder of the world, and it should be.

The building is in renaissance style on the hills of the monte Abantos at 1028 meters high. It had some changes to the style from its last architect Juan de Herrera ,called Herrerista. The building is 33 327 m2 and has 16 patios, 88 fountains, 13 oratories, 15 cloisters, 86 stairs, 9 towers, 1200 doors and 2673 windows!!! It’s principal façade has 207 meters long! The main rooms are the Pantéon de los Reyes  (Pantheon of the Kings), Real Basilica (Royal Basilica), and Real Biblioteca (Royal Library).

In the surrounding forests:parks of the monastery you must see the Casita del Principe Don Carlos, and the Casita del Infante. Two small houses in neo classic palace style construction from the 18C. Both were built for recreational homes of the prince Carlos IV (Prince of Asturias) and his brother the Infante Gabriel de Borbon ; the children of king Carlos III. However, even if served as a place of residence and burial of the monarchs of hte houses of Austria and Bourbon only one was born here. He was king Fernando VII born at the Monastery in 1784 and died in Madrid in 1833.

Do not forget in addition to the above to visit in the Monastery the Palacio de los Borbones (o Felipe II) ,and Austria’s (or Hapsburg’s) ; Convent, main stair, hall or sala de Batallas (battles) , Panteon de los Infantes (pantheon of the princes) and the pretty gardens.

In town, see the Real Coliseo Carlos III, Casa del Duque de Alba, Cocheras del Rey,Mercado de San Lorenzo, etc. The city center is full of historical buildings and great architectural marvels.

In all , it was the highlight of the trip with the always exception of Madrid ::) Many memories flashing my mind as we walked and saw this place again like nothing has change in all these years! San Lorenzo de El Escorial is immense, beautiful, impressive, and architecturally gorgeous. Enjoy it!!!

It won’t passed that many years to see it again. Cheers y’all ::)

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August 29, 2017

Cuenca , we are here again, the Casas Colgadas of Castilla La Mancha!

And we came down the mountains of the Serrania de Cuenca to visit the main city , Cuenca. Unesco World Heritage Site! Indeed is worth the trip and as we rented a house nearby , we came often here in our trip.

We were lucky while here to see briefly the Fiesta de San Juliàn August 24th, the traditional feast of the town in honor of their patron Saint. Also, we saw the 7th stage of the Vuelta de España, the bicycle tour passing by Cuenca all the way to the Alto del Castillo (13C ruins).

In Cuenca ,there is plenty to see and even in two stays in the area we have not seen it all; time is precious. We have been by the Tunel de Alfonso VIII entrance by the Calle Alfonso VIII. Then, there is the emblematic bridge or Puente de San Pablo built in 1902 replacing one done between 1533-1589. This bridge connected with the monastery of San Pablo ,today a nice Parador or hotel, and you can see the best views of the famous Casas Colgadas from it. Between the monastery and the casas you see the great canyon or hoz del rio Jucar river passing underneath.  Inside the Casa Colgadas there is now a museum of Abstract art showcasing many artists including Fernando Zobel.

There are the Monasterio de la Concepcion Fransiscana, built in 1504, managed by the order of the immaculate conception the same as in Toledo. Monasterio de Madres Benedictinas, or the Religiosas de San Benito dedicated to the Our Lady of Contemplation built in 1448 at the corner of today streets of Gonzalez Francés, Posito ,and Esperanza.  The convent of San Pedro de las Justinianas built in the mid 18C; Convent of Merced managed by the order of the Merced Calzada built between the 16C and 18C in baroque style. The Church of San Salvador started in the middle ages; a water fountain was built here in 1534 to bring water to the neighborhood. The Church of San Pedro, high up by the old castle very old church site of many battles for control of the city from the 15C. The Casa Consistorial or city hall in in the Plaza Mayor ,here since the 15C done in baroque style. The bridge or Puente San Antonio or San Anton crossing the river Jucar and built in the 18C and at the other end you see the Church of Virgen de la Luz that houses the divinity of the city. Hospital Santiago Apostol (St James) built in 1511 and still in use as a hospital today!!! Early 16C see the Casa del Corregidor and served as prison abandoned by 1541 today is just a building. The modern Museo de Cuenca museum opened in 1974 with the history of the area from earlier times to now.

There is so much to see many more museums and art houses , local craftman such as Fernando Moya where we shopped for souvenirs home decoration. The good old Confiteria Ruiz for sweet goodies, and the Panaderia Granier with great breads, sweets and pizzas to go. The La Licoreria offers a great selection of liquors , juices, sodas and wine from all over Spain and you can buy by the bottle or the case. More here: http://www.lalicoreria.es/index.asp

Don’t forget to climb over to the Tour Mangana to see the city from an old site with ongoing excavations. Climb the old city narrow cobblestones to the old Castle and the Puerta de Bezugo gate. The city has great public transportation in buses and now a tourist train little train that takes you all over the old town hilly streets . You can go to the modern world at El Mirador shopping center anchor now by Carrefour and many nice stores we buy shoes at Ulanka and video games at Game as well as fashion for the young men at Inside. More here: http://www.elmiradordecuenca.com/es/tiendas-restaurants

You have a wonderful local Adif train station at Calle Mariano Catalina 10 in city center, and an AVE or fast train station outside of town by Avenida Cerro de Estrellas s/n going out towards the N420 direction Mota del Cuervo  at about 5 kms or 3 miles; many buses connects with city center Cuenca. The main bus terminal is in city center by the train station adif with buses to many cities including Toledo and Madrid!

There is a nice Plaza de Toros or bullfights arena  done in 1848 in city center on main street Avenida de los Reyes Catolicos, walking distance from modern city center. More here: http://www.entradastoroscuenca.net/Plaza-Toros-Cuenca.htm

And of course, the one thing to see if time is short other than the Casas Colgadas is the Cathedral of Saint Mary and Saint Julian (Catedral de Santa Maria y San Juliàn).  It is located in the Plaza Mayor in the old section of town on a hilly street leading to the old castle. It began as a gothic style as the builders came from Normandy France sent over by Leonor Plantagenet, the wife of king Alfonso VIII of Castile and sister of Richard the Lion heart. It has a huge amount of treasure of an inmense value since it began to be built in the year 1196; the exterior was renovated in the 16C and the façade renovated in the 17C. Finally, all was renovated in the 20C as we see it today. The official site of the Cathedral is here : http://www.catedralcuenca.es/inicio

More on the things to see in Cuenca in  Spanish here: http://turismo.cuenca.es/portal/lang__es/tabid__9403/default.aspx

Again , a lasting impression of a nice town and friendly folks, nice family vacation, wish we had more days lol!!! I leave you with some photos of Cuenca in Castilla La Mancha, Spain!

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August 29, 2017

The little mountain town of Las Majadas ,Cuenca province.

We have come here last year, we love it!!! thinking to enjoy our summer family vacation we had our usual family council of ministers meeting::) We quickly decided it must be Spain again !!! great! for me. Then, we talked long and search our records and many online sites for the place to be base for our trip.

We took a while but at the end we came back to the same place as last year. The house is wonderful roomy cool and in the center of the town; the owners are wonderful human being very laid back country folks who enjoy talking and sharing stories;great ! Here we are as from last post I show some pictures of the house and more on this one with some businesses last and some more here.

The town is Las Majadas in the Serrania de Cuenca about 1400 meters down and 36 kms from the Unesco World Heritage site of Cuenca. The house is Casa Rural Pitu at calle Anastacio Lasso near the clock tower which houses the pharmacy and library of the town.

The city/town hall has a site in Spanish here: http://www.lasmajadas.org/default.aspx

The autonomous region of Castilla La Mancha has more in Spanish here: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/las-majadas-69831/

The Guia Repsol (sort of the Michelin of Spain) has more in Spanish here: https://www.guiarepsol.com/es/turismo/localidades/5117-las-majadas/

Casa Rural Pitu again is here in Spanish: http://www.casapitu.es/

Serrania de Cuenca site in Spanish where on the bottom you can print in pdf a brochure on the mountains is here: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/naturaleza/serrania-de-cuenca-57460/comer-dormir/

And the province of Cuenca tourist site in Spanish in here: http://www.descubrecuenca.com/

The town is very friendly and easy to walk, with great pathways into the mountains for the courageous runner/walker/hiker is a paradise.  We stucked to the city and the great bars and restos in it. Sad to hear the bakery has close down and now bread is deliver after 10h at the local school.

We were at 1400 meters altitude (about 4593 feet) and the driving down and up is winding and zig zag’s roads with gorgeous mountains views with lookout stops along the way to enjoy the scenery more.

In all, it was a great place to be at. We are already talking about next year would it be a third? or try something different, time and memories will lingered and we will decided by next February. For now ,enjoy Las Majadas, Province of Cuenca, autonomous region of Castilla La Mancha in the  Serrania de Cuenca mountains.

Cheers y’all ::)

 

 

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August 28, 2017

And vacation time is over,coming home from the Castilla’s of Spain!

Usually I go in order but decided this time to post the ending of the trip after the beginning of the trip so both initial travel to the end place and the return home have the same date in my blog. This is our family summer vacation to the Castilla’s of Spain. Castilla Y Léon, Castilla La Mancha,and Madrid!!!

We came by car and left by car, the best way to travel!!! We took an extra day at no charge from our wonderful hosts in Casa Rural Pitu in Las Majadas, in the Serrania de Cuenca at 1400 meters high in the mountains of Castilla La Mancha. Leaving on a Sunday at 6h53 (6:53 am). We decided this time been a Sunday and wanting to start the week at home before the work routine began to do this run paying tolls; something we rarely do but… time was of the essence.

We came back not listening to the GPS as I have done quite a bit of travel in my beloved Spain. Leaving by the A40 direction Madrid after coming down from the mountain into Cuenca. Shortly, I cut off into the N420 of Guadalajara on the N320 and Teruel on the N420. So I took Teruel. We drove into the outskirts of the town and then headed towards Zaragoza on the A23 taken the beltway Z-40 to continue on the A23 direction Huesca, then Jaca on the N330 getting under the Pyrénées mountain by the Somport tunnel at 1050 meters high!  (the days of going over is done but great views now you can go around the station of Canfranc). Once on the French side the road becomes the N134 and you past Urdos (before EU this was the custom house for border crossing !).  The tunnel is 8 602 meters long with 2 848 in France and 5 754 in Spain.  There is big construction on roads going on all over, and I expect that by my next trip many will be change, the A23 is trying to reach directly here on a expressway….!

Once in my belle France we headed for Pau on the N134 passing by Jurançon and taken the D802 around Pau towards the D817 following panels for the A64/A65 autoroutes. We connect on the A65 direction Bordeaux/Mont de Marsan on this toll road we paid 23,20€ in tolls! Passing Bazas again we headed on the A62 direction Bordeaux but fearing the always traffic jams of the beltway of Bordeaux we got off at Langon on the D672 passing by Saint-Macaire and continuing direction Sauveterre de Guyanne to connect with the D670 and passing by beautiful wine country and nice architecture along the way!! We pass again by wonderful wine country of many chateaux and heading on the D670 to Saint-Jean-de-Blaignac crossing the river Dordogne! Continuing on we pass just outside the medieval and rich wines of Saint Emilion then passing Libourne and crossing the river Dordogne again! Continuing on the Fronsac vinyards direction Saint-André-de-Cubzac on the D670 to connect with the A10 direction Paris for free!  Passing nearby Saintes and bear into the A83 direction Nantes! On this A83 paid 29,30€ tolls yikes! At Nantes got into the beltway N844 to connect with the N165 direction Vannes and home sweet home!!!

The wines are great Pomerol, Saint Emilion, Fronsac , gorgeous terrain and vinyards; great ride!!!

The anecdote of the return trip is the huge thunder and hail storm we had passing Langon, it was so hard we fell the car was been shot at with bullets of hail; concern we stop by a house subdivision to take cover and waited about 20 minutes before it was passed over, to continue our journey. This is definitively the biggest storm we have come across in Europe on the road.  It made our trip slower and paying tolls not well spent; reaching home by 23h30 or 11:30 pm Sunday! We are up and ready , however , already lol!!!

And now we are ready to go on into our wonderful finds, many nice repetitions and some new visit with the family. I been an old fox, been there done that, but it is always intensively gratifying to bring my boys into places I have been as a boy/teen/men myself, family education!!! And Spain will be always there waiting maybe one day living again::) Cheers and stay tune for more in my blog, thanks for reading it A+

Canfranc Cantenac Fuentes Jaca La Riviére Le Pian sur Garonne Libros Monrepos Monrepos Mont de Marsan Muel Pau Pau Pomerol Saugon Saugon Sauveterre de Guyenne Somport Saint Andre de Cubzac Teruel Teruel Urdos Urdos Villanua Villanua Zaragoza Zaragoza

 

 

 

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August 28, 2017

And vacation time arrived, going to the Castilla’s of Spain!

And I am back from another wonderful , exciting, great trip to my beloved Spain. Deciding where to go is difficult from our base in France, but Spain hit the button again, and we repeat in same area for our first time in our lives. The best decision we have made, Spain is well, everything under the sun. Even with those that wants to disturb the human race goes on without fears , and we enjoyed it fully.

We went by car, the best way to travel if possible (can drive over water lol! ) leaving early from home by 6h40 (6:40 am) we were out on the road. We took the trip into two parts; one was the one to go without paying tolls into our night hotel for rest and a break on the long sideways roads trip.

First, we took the trip from home to Pau, where we stayed at the same hotel we had stayed in our previous visits to the area, this is the Ibis Budget hotel by blvd de l’Aviation. Simple and nice for a couple of days just at the beginning at going straight into the city center/downtown of Pau; we stayed for one night this time on two rooms for 84€ total bill. Their site is here: http://www.ibis.com/gb/hotel-3498-ibis-budget-pau-est/index.shtml

There is an Auchan hypermarket at a bit over a km from it and just what you need to get some groceries snack food for the night and next day’s trip. The trip lasted on about 678 kms for 10h35 of duration. If with tolls you can do it in about 7h35…. but we always try to avoid tolls.

It takes you by the Nantes airport area that I am very familiar with on the D201 into the N844; from getting around here on the D137 direction La Rochelle, there are briefs roading on the D763 and D1173 which are basically the same road direction La Rochelle and then around Niort; you get back into La Rochelle on the N237 and later connecting on the A837 direction Rochefort nord before getting back on the D137 direction Saintes, La Rochelle, Rochefort Niort etc; you go into Saintes and continue direction Bordeaux, Pons, Jonzac. We continue on the D137  until going thru Saint-André-de-Cubzac on the D1510 to connect here briefly with the A10 and getting off the exit A62 to Toulouse, Pau getting off in the exit 1,1 for Langon, Pau and getting into the D1113 direction Pau, etc. Go into Langon always direction Pau , here get into the D524 and go into  Bazas, getting out on the D932 but quickly taken left on the D934 to go into Villeneuve-de-Marsan out of it get on the D824 direction Pau. Go into Aire-sur-l’Adour and continue on the D2 always direction Pau; go thru Auriac on the D834 and follow direction Pau into the boulevard Olof Palme and get on the direction Toulouse, Tarbes, Lourdes. Get into Pau along this beltway that is the D834 direction Pau Centre on the D943 to our hotel and on bld de la paix you can go on into old town Pau.

The next day we took again without paying tolls on familiar roads into the Pyrénées mountains.  Before we got there we had our breakfast in our usual place now the boulangerie  Laloubére facing the mountains where pastry, coffee and orange juice cost 2,30€! Taking the inner beltway of the D817 by Bizanos and Mazéres-Lezons into the D802 direction Zaragoza (signs in French says Saragosse) passing great wine country of Jurançon and Gan along the N134, follow Laruns on the D934 into the mountains looking for the col du Portalet mountain pass wonderful views real driving pleasure and into Spain on the N260 to Huesca to take the N330 into the wonderful road A23 to Zaragoza here take the beltway of the city, the Z-40 direction Madrid but get off on exit 28A to Teruel/Cariñera and then exit 176 into the N211 direction Montalban/Caminreal/Alcaniz.  Near the town of Caminreal take left on the N234 ,and near Monreal del Campo continue on avenue de Madrid still on the N211 passing by nice Molina de Aragon  (gas/petrol  station here) to connect with the CM210 that becomes the CM 2106 into the Serrania de Cuenca mountains and our home at Las Majadas!

We rented again from the same wonderful folks owners of Casa Rural Pitu in Las Majadas (highly recommended and a must if you are into nature and walks ) at town in the mountains of the Serrania de Cuenca at about 1400 meters and 36 kms from the Unesco world heritage city of Cuenca. house site here : http://www.casapitu.es/

We arrive in town early by 14h15 so we had our late lunch in the town of Vega del Codorno right next to the natural environment of the birth of the river Cuervo! Restaurante El Nacimiento del Rio Cuervo! highly recommended, see the nice lunch food served. On the site of rural houses here: https://www.escapadarural.com/que-hacer/vega-del-codorno/restaurantes/restaurante-nacimiento/fotos

and onwards to the AlCampo hypermarket for groceries for the next few days, this is the French chain Auchan (meaning to the fields) and have discounts for gas/petrol paying only for diesel 0,988!!! per liter. More on it here: https://www.alcampo.es/empresa/tienda/Cuenca

Finally, we headed to check in at our house, four bedrooms one full bath, kitchen , pantry, living and dining room right in center of town near the library and pharmacy as well as restos/bar. Sad to hear the bakery closed down but they deliver bread to the school in summer vacation time.  The owners are more than good ,they are excellent human being. Upon our repeat visit they had a Tarsus 1999 Ribera del Duero red wine for me as welcome! This is Casa Rural Pitu, at Calle Anastasio Lasso street. More on the site for rentals of these houses in Spain Top Rural: http://www.toprural.com/Casa-rural-alquiler-%C3%ADntegro/Casa-Rural-Pitu_19110_f.html

See the pictures on the house and the town several businesses catering to tourists and locals going into the mountains, lots of walking trails and nature lovers’ paradise.

Already all set for our wandering walks, car rides, into the Castilla’s of Spain: Castilla y Léon, Castilla La Mancha, and Madrid!!! Stay tune lots of photos over 900 and the choosing will be difficult. Cheers and hope all had a wonderful summer vacation wherever you are!!!

Aire su l'Adour Aire su l'Adour Barsac  Bielle  Bielle  Bielle  Las Majadas col du pourtalet col du pourtalet col du pourtalet  las Majadas  las Majadas  las Majadas  las Majadas  las Majadas  las Majadas  las Majadas  las Majadas  las Majadas  las Majadas  las Majadas  las Majadas  las Majadas  las Majadas  las Majadas  las Majadas  las Majadas  las Majadas  las Majadas molina de aragon molina de aragon Monrepos Nueno  Pau  Pau las majadas Saintes Saintes Una  Vega del Codorno  Vega del Codorno  Vega del Codorno  Vega del Codorno  Vega del Codorno  Zaragoza  Zaragoza

 

 

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August 9, 2017

Some news from France and Spain

 

Hello y’all, this is my last post before my long summer vacation in Spain, and won’t be back to the last day in August. Therefore, I like to thank you all for following my blog up to now and looking forward to more posts for all to enjoy including me ::)

Here in my lovable Morbihan it is sunny ! temps around 18C or 60F Méteo France calls for rain in the afternoon but can’t tell by looking out.  In fact they call for rain into the night …..The Weather Channel has it at 62F cloudy with risk of rain by midday…well I am looking out bright sunny no clouds oh well here goes the weather again.

Paris is at 64F cloudy as well ……and chance of rain today and tomorrow. Madrid is at 73F a bit cloudy but no rain, hey where is the heat wave !! well it says goes up to 95F by Sunday!

A bit more on both countries coming up.

The INSEE, the French statistical office has an increase in tourist for the 2nd trimester of 2017 with hotel nights at 56,6 Millions or a 6,3 % increase over same period last year. The foreign visitors are back with an increase of 10% and it tells France could reach 88-89 million visitors this year or an increase of 5-6% over 2016. Of course, if all else stays the same. Like the latest attempt in Levalois-Perret (92) outside Paris of military Sentinelle security personnel been run over by a car with 6 wounded ,two serious but not death threatening just this morning.

Know about tourism in France from the official French page here: http://uk.france.fr/

In Spain things are popping, according to the provisions of the Spanish hoteliers, Confederation Espanhola de Hoteles y Alojamientos Turisticos (CEHAT) ,they expect 56,7 million hotel nights or an increase of 8,8% over the same period last year. On the whole, they expect to have 80 million visitors this year 2017. The main foreign market is the UK and even the Brexit still has not cause any differences. They have increase by 14% the visits to Spain and increase expending by 19%. IN the long range visitors, the leading market is the USA with an increase of 19,4%, the Asians 34,5% (Japan, China,South Korea,and India), all due to better air connections, weak Euro and terrorist insecurity elsewhere.

Know about tourism in Spain from the official Spanish page here: http://www.spain.info/en/actividades/

There is a new contest on popularity by the site El Viajero Fisgon, that gives the favorite town of the Spaniards to visit. These are in order Ronda, Pastrana, Albarracín, Cadaqués (Cataluña), Alcalá de Júcar (Castilla-La Mancha), Cudillero (Asturias), Santillana del Mar (Cantabria), La Alberca (Castilla y León), Trujillo (Extremadura), Colmenar de Oreja (Madrid), Frigiliana (Málaga), Hondarribia (País Vasco), Altea (Valencia) ,and Vejer de la Frontera (Andalucía) to name a few. More here: http://www.elviajerofisgon.com/

And have you heard the news lately, the song Despacito by Luis Fonsi has become the first video to surpass the 3M views in Youtube and the most likes in history! The video has been seen in 40 countries with translations.  I would not post the video here but easy to find in YouTube.

Why people comes to Spain, well for sun and beach , but not really there is so much to see.  Unesco declares 46 sites for world heritage sites only the third country behind Italy (53) and China (52) and surpassing France (43) and Germany(42)!

Some statistics from Wikipedia ,Eurostat;etc on most hit cities to come:

París is the Unesco Heritage site most recherche

Number of Visits in Wikipedia to these sites during  2015,en millions. París,6,82 m; Rome,5,76 m,,Istanbul,4,78 mi,,Auschwitz,4,64 m, Statue of Liberty NYC;4,09m, The Great Wall of China,3,82 mi,Taj Mahal,3,69 m,Vienna,3,48 m,Budapest,3,43 m,Vatican City,3,34 m,Mexico City,3,26 m,Prague,3,25 m,Pompeii Italy,3,17 m,Venice Italy,3,16 m,Machu Picchu Peru,3,02 m,Moscow,2,81 m,Warsaw Poland,2,7 m,Rio de Janeiro,2,49 m,Stonehenge,2,46 m. Etc etc

And something not done yet, but have folks doing it and sure one to pop over is camping cars. Some tips from Erwyn Himer Group.

To choose the model, caravaning market you have basically four types, the Camper, freer movement, Capuchina, space with bedroom for driver, families or groups, Integrated almost like a bus design and the profil with good quality price ratio. The speed for camping cars is 90 KPH on conventional roads and 100 KPH in expressways/motorways. Parking is allow on designated areas for campings. The rights such as shower, lavabo, and sink need to be empty in spaces designated for that. The leftout water are to be kept in tanks and to evacuate them need to find a sewer or pvc exit pipe like.  Like I said ,not an expert but always curious about them for later on in life ….. more on this here: http://www.erwinhymergroup.com/?lang=en

And where I am going next, well Spain all over the Castilla and Leon and Castilla La Mancha regions. Base here:

 

Enjoy your vacations as I am looking forward to enjoy mine, today is my last day at work lol!!!  Happy camper indeed!!! And a road warrior soon on the motorways of France and Spain!! Cheers

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